Screenwriting Tools

A while back I examined a few of the parallels between screenwriting and service design. I’m continuing that exploration today by looking at a couple tools of the screenwriting trade: the beat sheet and the step outline.

A “beat” is a the smallest unit of story telling. Each beat describes a particular development. Something like: “Jeff heads down the back staircase into the garage to find his bicycle missing. He rushes outside to confront a teenager loading the bicycle into a waiting truck. A chase ensues.”

Taken together, all the beats in a story form a beat sheet. It’s a way to get a sense of the overall structure and cadence without having to wade through the entire script. A beat sheet allows a writer to experiment with rearranging the narrative. Here’s an example of a template beat sheet [Doc 40k].

A step outline is a little more detailed. It breaks each of the beats into individual scenes as in this sample outline [PDF 112k].

From a service design perspective, you might think of the customer journey as unfolding like the narrative in a screenplay. Each service encounter is a beat; each moment of truth is an individual step in the arc of the story. Why not take a look at the overall sequence in the form of a beat sheet or a step outline to see how the design holds together?

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